Is there such a thing as microwave safe plastic containers? Probably not.

The debate over microwave safe plastic containers is a lively one.

What does microwave safe plastic really mean? Does it mean safe for people, or safe for the plastic containers?

There is only one thing we know for certain. When a package or container is identified as being “microwave safe”, it is not going to bubble and melt. It means no one handling the container will suffer a burn from melting plastic.

Beyond that, we get into the usual debate between the plastics industry and health advocates.

The industry claims that microwave safe plastic containers are food safe. In other words, if you cook, reheat or defrost foods in these containers, you don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals leaching into your food.

Not so fast.

While these industry spokespeople often talk about how the FDA has to approve plastics for use in microwaves, scientists at the FDA talk a very different talk.

FDA science policy analyst Catherine Bailey says "When you microwave, it's a good idea not to have the plastic touch the food."

This migration of toxic chemicals to our food takes place faster and in greater quantities in the microwave because of the heating process involved.

As is the case with the use of any plastics which come into contact with our foods, it makes sense to be cautious.

* Remove all foods from plastic or plastic-lined containers before placing them in the microwave.

* Unwrap frozen meats from any plastic trays or wrapping before defrosting in the microwave.

* When reheating foods in the microwave, don’t use plastic containers.

The alternatives? Use glass or ceramic bowls, or plates.

More about the alternatives to plastics...